Seeking Self Improvement? Get into Running

I’m sitting on my couch, curled up in my blankets, and nursing my tired legs. I originally wrote this for Facebook, but feel like this is something that I would love to share with all of you.

Today, I completed my second half marathon in Vancouver, BC. Yes, sir/ma’am, that is 21.1 km and no less and rolling out of bed at 5:30 am in the morning so I can get there on time for a 7:00 am start.

The sun was shining today and the weather could not be any nicer for the Bank of Montreal’s annual marathon/half marathon/8km run. It is a qualifying race for many other official marathons, like the Boston Marathon. The energy of Vancouverites was incredible, especially after being deprived of sun for almost 7 months.

Early start for BMO Half Marathoners

Let’s just say, I’m happy I completed my run and at 2 hours and 19 minutes too! That’s after random unplanned evenings of training in the last couple of months, and my last ditched attempt the day before to squeeze in some last minute training with the ParkRide Canada run crew at their weekly 5km runs down by the Richmond Oval, under my belt.

But besides telling you how I’ve slacked, let me tell you how I’ve benefited from running, in more ways that just one.

Running is not just about physical fitness. Because if you think that way, you’re off track. No one likes to just kill their body, running 21.1km or 42.19 km in a marathon.
Why running?

I’ve always been a runner. In high school, I always came in the top three when we did our run days, and then for some reason, after that all ended I jumped for joy. I didn’t particularly like doing something because I was obligated to.

So after high school, for many years, I’ve had an on and off relationship with running. Sometimes, I’d run for a couple of minutes on the treadmill, other days, I’ll decide to run outdoors, but only around the block or around the seawall with coworkers.

Last year, I was and still am in a self discovery mode, and realized, that I thoroughly enjoyed running after several nights a week of at first 1.5 km around the block type of runs, to 3 km runs, and then 5 km runs.

I discovered that, running, serves several purposes. At first, it was therapeutic for me, because those moments of focus, energy, silence or sometimes basking in the music I loved helped me feel more relaxed in the moments that I felt stressed and lost (trust me there were several of those moments).

Randomly, Tina asked me to sign up for the Rock and Roll 10 km run with her. For some reason, as clumsy and unorganized people, we ended up signing for the half marathon instead. So, for the first time ever, we both ran the half marathon which is double what we signed up for, unprepared.

It turns out that we could do it… and those 5km nightly runs built my cardio enough to handle the run.

The feeling of crossing that finishing line was amazing, considering earlier that year, I finished the Vancouver Sun Run with much much difficulty (as in huffing and puffing, and ‘must be dragged by someone’ kind of difficulty).

Then running became something more for me, it was about doing my personal best, personal improvement, feeling accomplished, and sharing it with the people I started to appreciate in my life. For the first time, I saw that if I really put a lot of effort into training, I can directly see the impact of my results.

Nothing can beat the feeling you get when you run across that finish line with your own two legs. It’s on you to keep up with training, to get out of bed early on the weekends to do so. It’s on you to squeeze in a run in your tightly packed schedule when you’ve promised yourself you will, whether it is 11:00 pm at night or 5:00 am in the morning. It’s on you to say, “to hell with that, I’m going on anyway,” and continue when your mind and body says they’re tired.

Since then, I’ve run my second half marathon today, which is the 6th race I’ve run this year. In one short year, from 5km races, 10 km races, and 15 km races, and another half marathon, I’ve done them all…

At the BMO finish line with Tina.

I can’t wait to accomplish more in the next few years… perhaps a marathon?

Who loves running for the same reasons that I do?

Garabaldi – 5 Hour Hike

In July 2016, I decided to visit Garabaldi. It was a 2-3 hour drive towards Whistler and then it was a 5-6 hour hike, says VancouverTrails.com. It is 37km north of Squamish and 19km south of Whistler. You’re looking at around 1,484 m in surface elevation. The entire return trip to Garabaldi Lake and back is 18km in distance.

Whether it is a glacial scenic lake you want to see, or a weekend of camping, it is the place to go for all your heart’s desires.

It was on my bucket list for 2 years, and I never pursued it…because I didn’t have time and maybe I was subconsciously afraid that I was not fit enough to attempt it.

One day, my friend A and I decided to go for it anyway. It was the time in our both our lives when we wanted to be reckless and we both shared that “just do it” mentality, like Nike advertises.

So dragging along my sister and her boyfriend, we packed some cookies, a few bottles of water (highly recommended), and headed on the road.

I also curled my hair for photos, but the curls didn’t last long in the weather.

So the drive really take 2 – 3 hours, and there is a designated parking lot (Rubble Creek) right at the start of the trail, where we parked. We got there at around 1pm. The entire hike was a steady uphill climb, one that is not too hard, as it wasn’t like the Grouse Grind where it was a lot of inclined steps. There were a lot of switchbacks, but that is perfectly fine if you go at a steady pace.

A and I go to the gym regularly, perhaps 2- 3 times a week, so we had very little breaks, and would only stop at every marker (at each kilometre mark). I had on 3 layers, a jacket, a long sleeve, and a tank top. Even though it is a glacial lake, you do not need to wear that many layers.

It’s actually not that cold.

You’ll see a creek on your way up, and over a rickety old bridge, then you’ll see a crossing which will lead you to either Taylor Meadows or Garabaldi for camping options. You’ll then pass by Lesser Garabaldi Lake and then in a final stretch, you’ll see Garabaldi Lake..and as you make your way around the lake, you’ll hit the campgrounds. There’s also a mini island which you can carefully walk towards on little footholds formed by rocks and stones.

Make sure you keep your balance!

Garabaldi is just like how the photos advertised.

It was as breathtaking as I thought it would be. Near the shore is where you can pull out your snacks for a picnic meal.

Spend a few hours there, have a beer, and continue on to Black Tusk or make your way back down the mountain in due time. Good thing we made it back before dark.

Our team actually completed the hike in a little under 5 hours, and in good time.

Final note, make sure you start earlier. We ended up staying in Pemberton, BC as we got down at 6pm and it was a little late to drive back down the mountain (and way too pooped).